The possession, use or sale of certain controlled substances is illegal under both federal and Michigan state law. The specific charges can vary depending on a number of factors, including the type and amount of drugs involved. For those who have larger quantities of drugs or who are suspected of intending to sell or deliver illegal drugs, the charges are very often felony charges with serious potential consequences.
Felony Drug Crimes in Michigan
Simple possession or possession of drug paraphernalia is usually a misdemeanor offense that may result in less than a year of jail time, while felony drug charges are much more serious.
Some examples of felony drug charges include:
- Possession of certain controlled substances.
- Possession with intent to sell or deliver.
- Intent to deliver.
- Drug trafficking.
There are two key defining criteria that can make the difference between a misdemeanor drug charge and a felony drug charge: the type of controlled substance and the amount of the controlled substance that you have under your control at the time of arrest.
Michigan has relaxed its drug laws somewhat when it comes to marijuana. If you possess any amount of marijuana, your maximum penalty is up to one year in prison and fines up to $2,000. No amount of marijuana possession will lead to felony charges, unless you are cultivating, selling or intending to deliver it. This is very different from the rules for heroin, cocaine, MDMA and other dangerous or highly addictive drugs.
Felony Drug Charges for Heroin and Cocaine and Other Narcotics
Under both Michigan and federal laws, drugs are classified into different schedules based on how dangerous the substances are and whether they have any legitimate medical use. For example:
- Heroin is a Schedule I drug synthesized from morphine that also goes by the street names Big H, dragon, dope, smack and mud. It is highly addictive, and there are harsh penalties for heroin crimes.
- Cocaine is a Schedule II substance that comes in the form of an injectable hydrochloride salt that can also be ingested by mouth or snorted up the nose. Freebase cocaine also comes in a smokable form.
Other controlled substances classified as Schedule I or Schedule II drugs include:
- Ecstasy (Schedule I)
- LSD (Schedule I)
- GHB (Schedule I)
- Hallucinogenic mushrooms (Schedule I)
- Opium (Schedule I)
- Morphine (Schedule II)
- Oxycodone (Schedule II)
- Methamphetamines (Schedule II)
Oxycodone and certain other Schedule II substances are available by prescription. While you are permitted to have these medications with a valid prescription, they are illegal to possess, use or distribute unless under the orders of a licensed physician.
Penalties for Felony Possession of Heroin, Cocaine and Other Narcotics
Because heroin and cocaine are among the most dangerous drugs, the penalties are harsh for felony drug charges related to these narcotics. For example:
- Possession of more than 1,000 grams of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance in Michigan can result in a fine up to $1 million and incarceration up to life in prison.
- Possession of between 450 and 1,000 grams of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance can result in up to 30 years of incarceration and fines up to $500,000.
- Possession of between 50 and 450 grams of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance can result in up to 20 years in prison, as well as fines as high as $250,000.
- Possession of 25 to 50 grams of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance can result in fines up to $25,000 and as many as four years of incarceration.
You may also face a felony charge of possession with intent to sell if the drugs are packaged in such a way that indicates they will be sold or if you have paraphernalia indicating the drugs are for sale and not simply for use. For example, having marijuana or other drugs divided into individual baggies or having a scale for measuring grams may be considered indicators of intent to sell a controlled substance.
Felony Drug Charges: Prescription Pills Without a Prescription
While many drug crimes are based on the possession of illegal drugs, you can also be arrested and charged with a crime if you violate the laws related to prescription drugs.
The consequences of possessing prescription pills without a prescription vary depending both on the type and amount of medication. For example:
- Oxycodone is treated as a Schedule II substance, and penalties are the same for this drug as for any other controlled substance, including heroin and cocaine.
- Vicodin is a Schedule III drug, and you could face felony drug charges, fines up to $10,000 and incarceration for as long as seven years for delivery, possession with intent or creation.
- Valium and Xanax are Schedule IV substances. If you face felony drug charges for possession with intent to deliver or for delivery and possession, you may be fined up to $2,000 and incarcerated for up to four years.
Both individuals and physicians can face felony charges for obtaining, using or distributing certain prescription pills without a prescription. Doctors who illegally misuse their authority to prescribe medications may face much harsher consequences than individuals who simply possess illegal prescription drugs for their own use.